Lectures on Religion and the Founding of the American Republic: [Chapter 7] Thomas Jefferson: Religious Beliefs and Political Doctrines

Lectures on Religion and the Founding of the American Republic: [Chapter 7] Thomas Jefferson: Religious Beliefs and Political Doctrines

Author Matthew S. Holland

Given Thomas Jefferson's prominence in the fight to establish religious and political liberty in America, an examination of his personal religious beliefs and how those beliefs relate to his political doctrines is well warranted. This is no small task, however. Jefferson was, to put it simply, a very complicated man and thinker. For good reason, one of the best single-volume biographies of his life is titled American Sphinx. Jefferson was especially laconic when the topic turned to his own theological views. As he once wrote in a letter to a correspondent seeking information for a biographical sketch, "Say nothing of my religion. . . . It is known to my god and myself alone." Nevertheless, Jefferson left behind a voluminous collection of personal writings and public papers from which one can tease out the evolving general contours of his religious beliefs and their influence on his politics.